Shillong: The opposition Congress in Meghalaya alleged that the “aim” of the National People’s Party (NPP)-led government is to sell the State-owned Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) and demanded the immediate removal of Power Minister James Sangma and Chairman cum Managing Director (CMD) of MeECL Arunkumar Khembavi.
In an e-mailed statement, Congress Spokesperson Zenith M. Sangma raised a number of issues regarding the function of the cash-strapped MeECL and accused Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Power Minister of revising the estimates exorbitantly, awarding the works to single party from outside, preparing tender papers in such a way where only their single selected firm/contractor will be qualified, borrowing loans at an exorbitant interest rate, thereby making the MeECL a “milch cow” up to the maximum.
“I would like to request all our friends from the regional parties who are in the government to take a call on this and save the state immediately otherwise people of our state will not forgive. The only aim of this Government is to sell MeECL. Take loan to the extent that it cannot repay. The present Power Minister cannot be allowed to continue for even one day. They have made a mess of MeECL,” Zenith accused.
“This is the time to act. We can’t allow outsourcing of Substation to outside parties. There is a narrative that more Division/ Subdivision/ Power Station are being planned to be outsourced. Some faulty tenders for maintenance of the power station are already floated,” he asserted.
Stating that there are lots of anomalies in the project wing of Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited (MePDCL), Zenith said in the month of October 2020, the CMD allowed the officer of the rank of the Superintending Engineer to prepare DPR, issuance of LOA etc., which is generally done by the Chief Engineer.
“There is a narrative that this is done in order to undertake some manipulations. It is alleged that this is done with involvement of Power Minister, James Sangma,” he alleged.
Reacting to the Meghalaya High Court’s decision to stay NTPC move to regulate Power from May 11, Zenith said, “The same thing I have been advocating to go to Court or Arbitration for Justice. They should have done it much before. I have been always raising questions regarding the Atmanirbhar loan of Rs. 1345 Crore.”
“This loan is not going to help our state to become Atmanirbhar (self-sufficient) rather we will fall into a debt trap. It appears that the loan was taken for vested interest only,” he further alleged.
The Congress legislator demanded that the government review its decision to avoid feelings of deprivation among local tribal Engineers in MeECL.
“Inspite of the request of the Assembly Speaker and United Democratic Party (UDP) president, Metbah Lyngdoh to review this promotion, the government did not pay any heed and hurriedly allowed M.K.Chetry to join as Director Distribution on May 3, 2021. It has demoralized the local senior Chief Engineers of MeECL,” the opposition legislator stated in his exhaustive media statement.
Zenith added, “There is a narrative going on that Power Department & CMD MeECL have appointed Advisors on pro bono basis, who are already having business interests elsewhere.
Now tell me why someone from Noida or Delhi would work for the Power Department on a pro bono basis. Are they members of NPP or Political appointees,” the senior Congress lawmaker asked.
Zenith further demanded that the government should immediately take steps to repair the machines to make these functional so that full generation can take place “otherwise we cannot stop the MeECL from bleeding.”
On the government ordering to set up independent enquiry, the Congress Spokesperson said, “We demand that enquiry be conducted by an independent body and premium agency like CBI which deals with corruption and for conducting free and fair inquiry, and the present Power Minister, James Sangma and CMD should be removed immediately.”